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McDonald’s Canada & McCain Launch $1M Future of Potato Farming Fund

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McDonald’s Canada and McCain Foods have formed a partnership to create the Future of Potato Farming Fund by investing $1 million in education, demonstration and cost-sharing grants to support potato farmer adoption of regenerative practices and technology. Its goals are to build soil health and farm resilience as Canadian potato growers face the impacts of climate change on yield and crop quality.

“McDonald’s World Famous Fries come from 100 per cent Canadian potatoes, and each one starts with healthy soil and Canada’s dedicated potato growers,” said Gemma Pryor, senior director of the fast food chain’s impact team in Canada. “McDonald’s and McCain Foods have a long-standing relationship with potato growers nationwide and are working together to help advance agricultural practices and support the next generation of Canadian farmers.”

“Climate change continues to impact the crop and our potato growing communities. To address this, McCain has pledged to implement regenerative agricultural practices across 100 per cent of its potato acreage by 2030,” said Jeremy Carter, McCain Foods’ agriculture director for Western Canada. “Through our shared vision with McDonald’s Canada, we are focused on supporting our growers in accelerating the transition to the key principles of regenerative agriculture like maintaining living cover, reducing tillage intensity, diversifying rotations, reducing the intensity of chemical applications, and enhancing biodiversity. Education, demonstrations and direct grower funding of practice adoption through this Fund may lead to achieving healthier Canadian soils while creating planet-friendly food.”

“The partnership highlights the importance of coming together as an industry to support Canadian farmers in their ongoing transition to regenerative agriculture,” said Matt Hemphill, executive director at Potatoes New Brunswick. “Canadian potato farmers are excited to trial priority regenerative practices and technology through the Fund’s cost-share mechanism. This is a great example of supporting Canadian farmers with the tools they need to trial regenerative farming techniques, with an aim to future-proofing the land, and ensuing quality potatoes to share with Canadians for generations to come.”

The Fund will be open to more than 130 Canadian farmers, who represent more than 76,000 acres of potato cropland. It will consist of two rounds of grants for growers to implement established regulatory practices to build soil health and resilience starting in August 2022. Growers can apply to the Fund for cost-sharing from a list of priority regenerative practices and technologies, such as cover crop seed, flower strip seed, lower intensity tillage equipment, decision support systems, organic soil amendments, and more.

Funding decisions will be made jointly by an expert selection committee comprised of representatives from McDonald’s Canada, McCain Foods, The Soil Health Institute, and a representative from a national potato farming association. McDonald’s Canada and McCain Foods will be working with the Soil Health Institute to measure progress throughout the program, specifically increased soil organic carbon and total nitrogen, increased bulk density and aggregate stability and plant available water and better drainage capacity.